Tuesday, October 23, 2007

ladies and gentlemen, the 2007 big foot chiefs

I wrote this a while back for our fantasy baseball web site, and I thought I'd post it here. It's a look at last spring's varsity baseball season. Without further ado...

ACT I, in which exposition is revealed and the central conflict is introduced.

March 26…Pitchers and catchers report. And everyone else because this is just high school ball. Expectations are high – to quote my athletic director: “You got a lot of seniors this year. Don’t screw this up.” And he’s right. We have 8 starters returning from last year’s team, 6 of whom received All-Conference recognition. We are a legitimate contender.

April 2 through 6…My 3 best players take the second week off of practice to go to Florida for Spring Break. Hmmm.

April 10…We win our season opener 10-1 over conference rival Clinton. Sam Berg (one of the Spring Break absentees) strikes out 13. Good start.

April 16…After 2 rain-outs, we lose 18-0 to East Troy. Wow. Didn’t see that coming. You know it’s a bad game when your lead-off hitter only bats twice. But fortunately, we don’t have much time to dwell on it because we play our strongest competitors for the conference championship, Beloit Turner, tomorrow.

April 17…Crap. Knotted up 0-0 going into the bottom of the 5th (Sam is emerging as a legitimate ace), we drop a flyball, botch a routine double-play ball, and allow the next 10 hitters to reach base. Slaughtered 10-0 in 5 innings. Crap, crap, crap.

April 21…When people ask me how it went on this day, I tell them, “I had the worst possible day you could have and still sweep a conference double-header.” We’re winning ballgames (now 4-1 in conference), but we’re not playing well. I know that things are about to fall apart if we don’t right the ship. Plus, one of my guys gets into a collision at the plate that leads me to flip out on Brodhead’s coach in front of everyone. Not good times. Bad times.

ACT II, in which the protagonist tries, mostly unsuccessfully, to solve the central conflict.

April 24…Things in our favor on this day: 1) We’re playing at home; 2) their coach decided to send his JV coach because his (the varsity coach’s) wife is going to have a baby sometime soon; 3) every guy on their team gets off the bus wearing his hat backward; 4) their first baseman takes infield with a Mountain Dew bottle in his back pocket; 5) they have not won a game yet this season; 6) they have not scored a run in a conference game yet this season; 7) one of their players uses some salty language toward his coach when asked to warm up their starting pitcher. Final score: Palmyra-Eagle 12, Big Foot 10.

April 30…We lose 1-0 on one unearned run. Sam is now 2-3 with a 1.44 ERA. Clemensian numbers.

May 10…Our 6th straight loss (an 18-15 track meet with the aforementioned Beloit Turner Trojans). The kind of garbage that you deal with when you coach high school baseball: One of my seniors comes in to pitch in the 4th. He goes into the 7th with a 2-run lead. Their lead-off hitter hits one off the bull and earns a free steak. 1-run lead. Next guy grounds out. Next guy doubles. Next two guys walk to load the bases. I decide to take him out. Following the game, his dad finds me on the field and tells me that his son was pitching well enough to finish and that I’m destroying his self-esteem. His is “glad [we] lost” because it “serves [me] right.” Did Gordie ever deal with this?

May 23…The regular season is over (7-12 overall, 6-8 in conference). Through some miracle, we are in probably the weakest Regional in the state, so we have a 3-seed and a bye. That means that we need to beat Brodhead (the ones we swept) and, probably, 1-seed Edgerton (who swept us) to go to Sectionals. Almost seems possible. Almost.

ACT III, in which the protagonist successfully resolves the central conflict.

May 29…We go to Brodhead and smoke ‘em 6-0. Sam throws a complete game shut-out while going 2-3 with 2 doubles. He was, incidentally, our only All-Conference selection, a 2nd-Team pitcher. (Could have been 1st-Team with that 1.98 ERA, but the 2-5 record was too much to overcome.) On the bus ride home, my rightfielder hears from a girl that he may or may not be dating that Edgerton lost to lowly Whitewater. That means that we are somehow hosting the Regional final, and that we need only to beat a team that is inexplicably worse than we are to end up in Portage (at the Sectional). Goodness gracious.

May 30…We beat Whitewater 8-7 (but not before the kid whose self-esteem I have destroyed loads the bases in the 7th). We are the Regional Champions. This is ridiculous. I almost feel guilty.

June 4…Interesting sidenote: My starting second baseman just informed me that he’s leaving for Mexico tomorrow and won’t be at the Sectional game. Thanks for the update.

June 5…We get clobbered by Edgewood, a semi-pro team out of the Madison area. Still, kind of a nice experience. And the 7th Regional Championship plaque in school history is hanging on the walls. (You know how sometimes a guy hits a little pop-up that falls in for a basehit and they say, “It’s a line drive in the book”? Well, that’s how I feel about that plaque. Sure, we did it with a mediocre team against some really God-awful teams, but it looks like a line drive in the book.)

So there you go. Hope you enjoyed our season. I almost did some of the time.

Later gators.

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